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Mexico Says All Details Of Immigration Deal With The U.S. Have Been Released

Jun 12, 2019
Originally published on June 12, 2019 6:35 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

So just what was on that piece of paper President Trump was waving around yesterday afternoon?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And in here is everything you want to talk about. Done - it's done.

CORNISH: Mexico says it isn't a secret immigration deal with the United States. At the same time, Mexico's foreign minister says the country is deploying National Guard troops, starting today, that both sides have agreed to a 45-day timeline to review whether Mexico's increased enforcement efforts are effective and that Mexico has created a working group with Central American nations to work together to stem the tide of migrants north.

Reporter James Frederick is at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. And James, first, can you shed light on whether there are details to this agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that have yet to be revealed, as President Trump has implied?

JAMES FREDERICK, BYLINE: The Mexican government says no. They continue to say that everything that was agreed between the U.S. and Mexico is on the table, is out there in public. You know, they're not going as far as saying that President Trump is lying or exaggerating or anything, but instead, they're trying to be very open and communicate details of what their plans are.

So they've been upfront about exactly how they plan to deploy more forces to stem the flow of migrants, to attend more asylum seekers so that people stay here in Mexico. So they say there's no secret agreement and that in these 45 days, they're going to work and show the U.S. that they can make the progress that they need to.

CORNISH: As we mentioned, Mexico's foreign minister was speaking today about all of this. He says that Mexico will consider the U.S. demand that it become a so-called safe third country, should enforcement efforts fail. Can you tell us more about what he had to say on that subject?

FREDERICK: Well, so safe third country basically means that if you flee your country looking for safety somewhere else, you have to stop in the first safe country you get to. So if Mexico agrees to this with the U.S., that would make Mexico this safe country for people to stop in, and it would stop people from being able to request asylum in the U.S.

Mexico has resisted this idea for a long time because, you know, we can only imagine how many thousands of thousands of people that would leave stuck in Mexico. But it seems like this is the first time they're considering it, which is quite a big deal. Mexico's also talked about kind of a regional asylum plan, sharing some responsibility with Central American countries. But in the context of this, you know, it's very clear that where the Mexican government is right now, it would be totally unprepared to deal with thousands and thousands more asylum seekers staying here in Mexico.

CORNISH: Finally, you've reported to us that Mexico's new National Guard is small, still getting on its feet. But Mexico says they are deploying those troops to the southern border today. Have you seen any sign of them?

FREDERICK: I'm here near the southern border, and there's still no sign of the National Guard. As you say, this is a brand-new force. They have not been deployed anywhere yet. We're not even sure if people have actually been trained as National Guard troops yet. This was created by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador very recently.

And so, really, the question not only is when they're going to be deployed, how many it might be, but also, have they been trained? Are they going to be this modern, professional security force that Mexico's president says they're going to be?

CORNISH: That's reporter James Frederick in Tapachula, Mexico. Thank you for your reporting.

FREDERICK: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.